Posts Tagged ‘The Journey of Thomas’
Thursday, July 16th, 2009
By John J. Smid
A man finds joy in giving an apt reply- and how good is a timely word
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones
I love you! How many times in your life have you heard someone verbally say they love you? How often as a child did you hear your dad or mom say these words to you without shortening them to “luv ya”? Or did you hear this at all? I find that it can’t be said too much.
It is so important when showing the love of Christ to others that we develop an awareness of how much people need to know they are loved and cared for. Affirmation is so important and it is much more significant when it is attached to something specific.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
God loves us, period.
God’s word here says basically two things: First, God loves us, period. Second, it says that we are asked to share that love with others through personally loving them.
This kind of love isn’t necessarily romantic, nor is it intended to be erotic. In our contemporary world, the word love is so misunderstood because it has so many meanings. The love shown here is a command that may or may not have a mushy, affection attached to it. It is the kind of love that we chose to give away. It may be very sacrificial! In fact, most people that we chose to love will likely bring us to a point of sacrifice at some point or another in our relationship.
Some of us have received a comment such as “good job” for things we have done well. Or maybe we have received kind words of thanks when we have given something to someone as a gift. And in some cases, we might have heard “I Love You” from unexpected places. But what about affirmation of whom we are as God has created us to be?
This love is not connected to performance!
I was at a weekly men’s support meeting at my church about 12 years ago. I was in a really tough spot and feeling a lot of self pity. One of my friends spoke emphatically to me about how I really needed to “get over it”. His words were true and I received them in the spirit in which they were meant. I was thankful for his response which was intended to somehow “shock” me into a better reality. But, at the end of the meeting my friend said, “John, maybe I was too hard on you and it might have been better if I had just told you, “I love you.” Wow! That was powerful for me to receive. I was moved to tears hearing this man spare his own machismo to tell me clearly and succinctly that he loved me.
One of the most meaningful kinds of love is unconditional love. This kind of love isn’t attached to what we have done or given, it is just that we are loved by God and as His children we are commanded to do likewise, love each other just because we are called to, because He loves them.
If you happen to be a parent, check to see how often you tell your kids, “we love you” as though you and your spouse are one person. While it is very important to be united and show you are a team, in marriage, it is also important to show your kids you are individuals too. Try to tell them you love them as a dad, or mom separately from one another. “I Love You!” There is a lot of meaning in a son hearing from his dad, “I love you, Son.” There is a lot of significance for a daughter to hear this from her dad or vice versa as well. The eye to eye, verbal, with personal contact, “I L O V E You” is very important.
This certainly doesn’t mean we are to avoid giving affirmations on behalf of a group or couple. Being sensitive to that is very important as well. Showing appreciation for someone’s involvement in our lives is equally important – however it may be easier because of less vulnerability involved.
The power of a poignant pause……
Think about it just for a minute. It can be very personal to enter someone’s day with an “I love you” that just hangs there and isn’t associated with a tradeoff nor does it expect something in return. This is the love of Jesus, His love for us without us giving anything in return and expecting nothing in the future. Sounds a lot like the Gospel, doesn’t it?
The Blessing – without it we may search in all the wrong ways to find it!
There is a book by Garry Smalley and John Trent called The Blessing which I have found teaches an important lesson on sensitivity. This little book is powerful and effective in showing us how to truly bless one another, not by affirming something we have done, but rather affirming the character that God built into us when He created us.
When blessing an adult child, as a parent, it is important to think of them when they were growing up. There are times when we are looking at our adolescent or adult children and a blessing is far from our minds. We may be really challenged by their lives or choices. But this may be the most significant time to share a blessing; at times when they may not feel they deserve even a kind word-much less a blessing.
What kind of person were they when they were 7 or 8 years old? What was their natural bent? How did they see their world or other people? This may have been a time before they were wounded or hurt by the world. It might have been a purer time in their life for their personality to have shone.
A blessing for them when they are grown would contain many of these characteristics within it. The same would apply to a child blessing their parent. Look back over your life and see if you can find things about their character that you can bless regardless of their current behavior.
Blessing people in general
Sometimes we have challenging relationships with others that might require us to dig deep for a blessing to be written or shared but it is possible if we put aside surface things we see and look for the positive character traits that we have observed over time.
As we learn to live honestly, entering into one another’s lives, we must learn to become more sensitive in regards to loving each other. This is not a perfect world and we are certainly not perfect people, but God asks us to love each other actively.
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
If we have been honest, put aside our rights for a special time, heard their hearts, and released our judgment, it becomes so much easier-maybe even natural-to sacrificially love someone else.
I grew up without much physical affirmation. When I was a teenager I felt hungry for hugs. I thought this through and figured the easiest person to get a hug from would be my Grandma Smid. I was at her home and when we left I reached out and sought a hug from her. It was so well received; I thought “who would be next?” So one by one I reached out to other family members and found that when I hugged them, they typically responded with a warm hug in return.
Later in my life, I went too far with hugs. I lost all sense of healthy physical contact and moved into inappropriate physical contact and sexuality. When I was convicted to return to a healthier lifestyle those simple hugs didn’t seem to mean anything anymore. I was starved for the way it felt to hug my grandma but my excessive physical boundary crossing had damaged my physical receptors.
I was in a really good church where hugs were often given and I received them with resentment due to my unhealthy hunger for more. But over time, something amazing happened! As my flesh detoxified from the abuse of touch, I found that God had healed my failed nerve endings. Simple hugs, holding hands to pray, and a pat on the shoulder became a lifeline to my soul, healing many places that were damaged.
I never thought it would happen, but the hunger was finally satiated. Today, I give physical affirmation to others rather than trying to manipulate it from someone else. I realize how important physical touch is when it is healthy. I know how many may be starved for the touch of a trusted friend who isn’t looking for something in return.
Seeking permission to touch
I have also learned that some people may be wounded in such a way that touch may be something they can’t accept from someone they don’t know or without their permission. For some, physical touch can feel unsafe and potentially dangerous to their personal circumstances.
I learned that it was vital when at church, or in a social setting that if I don’t know someone I need to ask permission to hug them if it is healthy in that setting to do so. I also learned that there are safe ways for people of the opposite gender to hug. A safe “side to side” hug can not only communicate healthy physical touch but it can also communicate that I desire to protect them by not assuming they are comfortable with other types of physical hugs.
Learning sensitivity for others hearts, souls, and physical boundaries is vital in developing respectful relationships.
Printable PDF – Sensitivity
Thursday, June 18th, 2009
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
To be transparent means to be free of pretense or deception. As Christians we are often accused of being arrogant, or plastic. We have been called hypocrites. We are sometimes accused of being unrealistic and fake. Transparency renders such accusations without merit. Living a life of transparency is one “clear” enough that God can write on our lives His message, but to have enough substance to be the vehicle that He wants to use.
As a Christian, if I am not careful, I can easily put myself above someone else because I can be judgmental towards others, seeing what they are doing compared to what I am not doing. In my younger years while I was living a very rebellious life I would often grade those around me in such a way as to make myself out to be better than they were. I would say to myself, “Well at least I’m not like that”. Here I was sleeping around, drinking, lying, and many other despicable things but at least I didn’t do that! Well, it was the “that’s” that I was tempted to do next and often did.
Being transparent is going deeper than honesty or authenticity; to be “clear” through and through. It means to not cloud up my life with pretense and deception. This doesn’t mean I lose myself and become so invisible that there is no substance to my life but rather allow others to see my true self infused with the spirit of Christ when I communicate with them. For example, when I was in school the teacher would use an overhead transparency to write on with the so that we could see what she was saying to us; or to draw an example of what he imparting to us.
Transparency also means that we are of such a special design that the purposes are clear for how God wishes to use us. We also know the limitations of our lives and therefore we have an understanding of how we are not to be used. Again, referring back to the transparencies my teacher used, there are transparencies for color enhancement or to change texture. There are permanent transparencies so the message is never lost, and there are erasable ones that can be used over and over again.
I have a friend who is a part of our home group. I can’t tell you the number of times he has come to report some interesting, God inspired, divinely appointed opportunity to help someone, to encourage someone, to pray with someone, or just to tell someone he loves them. His life not only challenges my selfish heart, but it challenges my ears to hear from the Lord and obey what He is asking of me.
A transparent life does not demand its purpose, but is available to be used when appropriate to do so. Just recently, I was driving down the street and saw someone I knew in the car near me. I saw him turn into a fast food restaurant for lunch and thought of the transparency of my friends openness to being flexible. I drove by thinking, “I should call him to tell him I saw him”. I didn’t have his number with me, so I decided to make a u-turn (legally!), go back and say hello in person.
I went in while he was in line. He asked if I was eating as well. I said, “No, I saw you come in and decided to stop in to say hi”. He said he didn’t typically go to lunch at that time but was glad that his day turned out differently because it gave him the opportunity to share a little time together.
As it turned out, this was a great blessing for both of us. It is not usual for me to go out of my schedule or convenience to do this. But my friend’s life and the blessings he receives from living ready and available make me want to have some of what he has. That day, I got a taste of what can happen if I listen and move according to the opportunity that comes my way.
I am picturing in my mind a stack of brand new transparencies all ready for their uses to be discovered. As we line up our lives, is it possible to wait, to ponder, to be ready for our Heavenly Father to take us off of the pile when he needs us? Are we available and ready?
I remember getting into a pile of transparencies and found one that was not clean and had to put it back for a later time when it could be cleaned up. When I am ready to use one, I need a clean one right then.
I’ve also found that there are the ones that are wiped clean to use over and over. There is also the one right out of the box that I have used for the permanent printing purposes. I can’t say the used ones are less valuable than the brand new ones. Each one has its own place. But sometimes I think I’d rather be the older ones. I would see a whole lot more that way. The new ones might be permanently printed on and then put away in a file box only for only special occasions. Each of us has our own special place in the kingdom!
I have missed opportunities for my Father to use me because I just wasn’t ready yet. I must understand that He will do the cleaning when the time is right. I guess in the end, living a transparent life means I have to learn to be flexible and ready to be used at any given point for whatever He wants.
If I am going to grow in my passionate response to the Great Commission, I will have to open my heart to living a transparent life. Loving others and sharing the life of Jesus with them through my life will not often be convenient and will likely call me to make a u-turn on short notice.
Another form of transparency is being free to alter a challenging situation rather than to continue in it. I have learned a great tool that has helped me on numerous occasions to ward off an argument or a conflictive conversation. I call it the “24-hour rule”.
Prov. 25:8 (NAS)
Do not go out hastily to argue your case. Otherwise, what will you do in the end when your neighbor humiliates you?
One day I opened up a dialogue with my wife in which I felt indignant and smugly correct about the conflict. As I continued to attempt to prove my point, my wife said, “John, I’ll have to think about what you said and I’m not going to continue the conversation at this time. I’ll get back to you tomorrow with my thoughts”.
I felt shut out and even more indignant, but I couldn’t argue with someone who had just said, “I am not going to respond.” At the same time, I felt free from the discomfort of my own challenging perspective and glad that she had the forethought to utilize this tool.
The next day, in that same integrity, she came back to me after both of us had time to process. We discussed the matter quite differently this time than we were trying to do the day before.
There are two elements to this particular tool that make it work.
• Number one, a willingness to establish the boundary that comes with the tool in the middle of an emotional discussion.
• Number two, having enough conviction and integrity so as to not forgo the discussion but to bring it back up so as to resolve it the next day.
This tool, as simple as it is, will work with parents and children, spouses, work situations, and any other situation that can become unhealthy if it continues without a healthy process. This tool values the person who is conflictive because you are saying to them that you really want to take the time to think and pray about what they have said. It also values them because it can keep them from continuing in a conversation they both of you may regret later, and requires transparency.
© 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 3818
PDF of Transparency Article
Friday, June 5th, 2009
The Journey of Thomas
By John J. Smid
hen you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Truth? What is truth anyway? At a core level, Jesus is Truth. In this passage of scripture, I am certain that the core meaning implies that if we know Jesus Christ, He will set us free from the laws of sin and death. Knowing Truth in this very personal and redemptive way is the foundation of our lives and the avenue to living life eternally with our Creator; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the Grace Rivers’ Core Values we begin with Honesty. This kind of honesty stems first of all from a willingness to be honest with yourself. It is important to develop the skill of self evaluation. Why do I do what I do? Where do my reactions come from? What were the motives that underlie my actions today? Why did I shut down yesterday when I was talking with my wife? Why did I walk away from my husband when he began to discuss our daughter?
When I was a young Christian I read a little pamphlet titled “Your Reactions Are Showing.” I’ll never forget the wisdom and challenge I read in the words compiled in that little life changing booklet. It challenged me to look deeper into my life to find out what was underneath my unhealthy attitudes and thoughts. This was the beginning of my own pursuit to know my heart. I stumbled through life making many mistakes and allowing poor judgment to enter into many relationships, now is the time for truth.
When I began to evaluate my own motives and unhealthy reactions I saw marked improvement in my own decision making. I found a dramatic decrease in my own anxiety and a much improved process of developing healthier relationships. I also found peace to be the outcome of my own personal honesty.
When I was driving on the Interstate a man in a light blue pick-up truck cut right in front of me to go around the car in the middle lane. My first “reaction” was to feel angry and to wonder why he would do such a stupid thing – I mean didn’t he see me? My heart immediately went to a personal honesty. I had to be honest with myself about having done the very same thing many times. I am sure others had responded the same way when I cut them off. Knowing this brought me to an almost immediate forgiveness in my heart and a release of the frustration and judgment I had been experiencing.
On another occasion I was driving to a Bible study with a few other people in my car. We entered a subdivision of homes and we needed to go down a street that was immediately on our left after the entrance. I looked up and saw a “no left turn” sign and feeling inconvenienced by this seemingly ridiculous sign I decided to ignore its’ instruction and turn left anyway. I didn’t want to have to go any further out of my way since our study was starting very soon.
Well, you guessed it. A police car came immediately up behind me motioning me to stop. I felt so embarrassed in front of my friends. When he took my information back to his car I was drawn to personal honesty. I turned to my friends and said, “I deserve a ticket, I was wrong”. I had accepted my potential consequences admitting my error. The policeman came back to our car and told me he was giving me a warning. In my thankfulness I turned once again to my friends and said, “That was grace”.
In both of these situations, personal honesty gave me freedom; a freedom from the attempt to circumvent truth and live a lie. First, a lie that somehow I was more perfect than the man in the light blue pick-up which ended up in my highly critical reaction to the situation. Second, I was attempting live out a lie that somehow I was privileged to go around the law because I wanted to.
I can go on and on in examples where personal honesty brought freedom to my life. I can mention many times where personal honesty was very uncomfortable and on the surface brought about challenges that I didn’t want to have to face. But, in the end, the truth wins out and honesty really is the best policy.
Some other great scriptures for internal honesty are:
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
I find this scripture particularly interesting since covers two very important sides of this point. Giving through to our ways is exactly what I am trying to bring forth here. Personal evaluation is so important in living an honest life. The last part of this scripture speaks to living in deception and that will lead to folly.
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.
I see in this passage the reality that somewhere in our own hearts lays bitterness as well as joy. Both are important to know and understand if we are going to live an honest life. I also find that it moves us to see that if we are honest with ourselves, we will see the truth. We do know our own bitterness and yet, without understanding, others will not relate to it by osmosis, rather we need to share it with them.
Prov. 14: 13
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.
Are we tempted to hide our aches underneath laughter? Living dishonestly is at times hiding our pain in fear of someone else seeing it and putting ourselves as a perception of risk if we open up. I believe it is important to see if we can’t learn to trust more freely in the Spirit of Christ to rise up in His people. Can we trust in people? Not always. But we can trust Christ in people.
For further reading on personal honesty I highly recommend the book, “Telling Yourself the Truth” by Backus and Chapian. This book has laid the foundation for personal evaluation of my internal process. I have never been the same since reading that book.
Prayer for today:
Lord, today, filter my mind through Your truth. Help me to be more honest and less defensive in my reactions toward others. I desire your truth in my inmost parts. In your sovereign grace, help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me.
© 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 38183
Printable PDF Click Here
Saturday, May 30th, 2009
The Journey of Thomas
Building Healthy Safe Relationships
By John J. Smid
The Journey of Thomas is rooted in the value of healthy relationships. It is founded on developing the skill of building relationships rather than just falling into them. I have taken the opportunity to begin this series on relationships with a foundational message. In subsequent lessons we will learn more specific practical skills that will help to undergird this chapter.
John chapter 15 verse 15
“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends.
When I look back on my understanding of the history of our world, I see most of the wars, the division, the rise and fall of many world cultures; I see that relationship seems to be the root problem of all of the problems of our world!
If we are going to be a part of the solution of the breakdown of our world, we must choose to be a relator and in that, to be a person who is committed to good relationship building. The problem often is that we don’t know how to build good relationships!
Scripture clearly states that we have two basic commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. All of the commandments are summed up in these two.
When the Lord God instructs us to refrain from some behavior or to abstain from something, it is not just an arbitrary rule that He just thought He would throw down and see how we respond! Sin is sin because it negatively affects relationship either between us and God, or between us and someone else. That is the bottom line. This shows God’s heart for us; that we learn how to love Him and how to love one another. Please allow me to share what I see as a model for healthy and godly relationships.
John chapter 15 verse 15 – 16 says: “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.”
I firmly believe that when I am introduced to someone I will know them forever. I may forget their name, I may forget that I have met them but in a situation where I am reminded of our meeting, I will likely remember that we had met. I may get to know someone then experience something that could bring this relationship into disrepair or distance but this doesn’t change the reality that I know them. Knowing this brings me to be so much more careful to respect each and every relationship that I have and to follow, to the best of my ability, godly stewardship of my relationship with others.
If you are introduced to someone new you may have no earthly idea of where that relationship will go. If it is someone of the opposite sex and you are single, you could be married to them someday. If it is a meeting of happenstance, you could end up being an employee of theirs, or you could become quite intimate in friendship. Do you have forethought about how you will relate to others before you even meet them? I believe we all should develop personal relationship ethics that we stand on so that we are not stumbled by meeting new people. I believe that these verses in scripture give us a structure to build those ethics on.
In this passage I see three basic elements in healthy relationships. Jesus has called us to first of all, be honest. In building new relationships I try to always begin with one rule, honesty. Without honesty, all relationships have the potential of damage. When we meet someone, if we are not walking in the spirit of honesty then we could be heading towards a faulty foundation for the relationship. If I may be so honest as to say that we could even be building the relationship in fraud!
Jesus said that he told us everything that His Father told Him. He held nothing back and informs us of all that we need to know to have a good relationship with Him. I have seen relationships go to ruin over dishonesty and lies. Marriages go to separation and divorce over deception and holding back from one another.
Song of Solomon exhorts us to deal with “the little foxes that destroy the vineyard”. I believe this means to be honest with our intended marriage mate and to allow God to heal the wounds before the marriage. Being honest about our past is imperative if we are going to make a healthy marriage.
Can you imagine meeting a new friend and they invited us to go see a movie with them. It may come about that the movie they picked out is not something I would find edifying and given my usual pattern I would not choose to go. But, this time rather than risk this new friend’s questions about my life I say yes and against my better judgment I go ahead anyway.
Well, if this friendship continues to build I have laid a foundation that I am open to seeing movies that in my conviction are not for me, I have in effect given an image of me that is not true and I may have to later confess that really didn’t enjoy the movie and made a wrong decision by attending it. This is laying a wrong foundation for honest relationship and can be fraudulent.
Choose our Relationships
Of course, I know that we meet people that we do not choose to meet. I understand that we engage in relationships with others that if given the chance we might not choose to build a close friendship with but none the less, we are in a relationship with them. I know full well that given my broken life, Jesus might not really appreciate all of the sin in my life and relates to me in spite of my wrong choices. So, what does it mean to choose our relationships?
When I shake the hand of a person I have just met I have the opportunity to make a choice right there. How will I choose to relate to this person? What will I do with what I begin to know about this person? What internal boundaries may be appropriate as I move into life with this individual?
Do you have a set of personal relationship ethics that you operate by? Things like, I will not spend alone time with anyone until I know them well enough to trust them. I will not ride in the car with someone that I have just met. I will not give out my personal information until I feel safe enough to do so. These are just a few possibilities but there are many more we can all think of I’m sure. Relationships can be much more successful if we build them on well thought out frameworks.
You may work closely with someone of the opposite sex. Will you drive to lunch with them alone – even if you are married? Will you go out to dinner with them alone just because you are the only ones eating? How will you spend time with them when you are at work? Will you have closed door meetings with them? If we think out the possible scenarios ahead of time we will be safer and more likely to walk in integrity. It is not as personal when the decision of how we will function is made without someone right in front of us while we try to decide these types of very important guidelines for our relationship experiences.
So, do you choose your relationships or do they just happen? When you have met someone new have you experienced confusion and distrust that you have to back paddle away from? Choosing our relationships also allows you to make healthy decisions about which you will spend time with. Not everyone we meet is appropriate for us to spend time with. There are those who can stumble us into temptation. There are those who can be harmful for us. If we do not choose our relationships wisely, we could find ourselves in a great big mess!
Relationships that Bear Fruit
Jesus chose for a purpose. He chose us so that we would bear fruit for the kingdom of God. There is an end result that He hopes will occur. When we choose people in relationship it is always for kingdom purposes. Sinful relationships that we get ourselves into often come from a lack of honesty, a lack of healthy boundaries, and a lack of personal choices and end up damaging us in relationship with God’s kingdom.
There are relationships that are designed just for fun! That is great. Golfing buddies, cooking clubs, God certainly blesses fun when it is healthy and productive. But there are also relationships that have a serious impact for the kingdom. When you meet someone new do you ask God for His plan for this meeting? Have you considered seeking Him for the purpose He might have in mind?
Be mindful of the way sexual sin, co-dependency, chemical dependency and other addictive sins, damages relationship. When I realized that I was in the habit of attaching myself to people in emotional dependence, repentance brought me to make a decision. I will no longer bring someone into my sin. I decided their lives may have enough troubles, they don’t need mine too. Sexually, it would behoove us to make the decision that we will no longer bring another person into our sin practice. Whoa! This could certainly change the way we live. If we begin to see others as people, loved by God, then maybe we will be strong enough to not involve them in our drug addictions, our sinful relationship practices, or our relational dysfunctions.
How will God’s kingdom be benefited by this meeting of someone new? Will you grow as a result of this new person in your life? Will they grow? Will this relationship develop into a team of support, encouragement, or support of others? Will this new friend become a marriage that will bear and raise godly children who will serve the kingdom of God?
So, how will you handle that new person you are going to meet tomorrow? Before you do, I urge you to consider:
• Honesty, begins with integrity
• Relationship ethics – make healthy godly choices about those you meet
• Seek first the kingdom of God in all relationships – allow Him to bear fruit in them
© 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 38183
Printable PDF – Click Here
Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
Feelings: Should We Live By Them?
by John J. Smid
The Journey of Thomas begins with Thomas’ question of Jesus, “Lord, I don’t know where you are going, and I don’t know how to get there”. He answered with, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus said to Love Him with all of our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Before we can even consider how we might build and maintain healthy relationships it is very important to learn more about ourselves. I believe with everything in me that the core of my identity lays in my soul, my heart. What drives me? What makes me tick? Where does my passion lie? I am certain that you have likely asked those same questions at one time or another.
Our Father has also said to bury the Word of God into our heart. I think we can far more effectively process the Word of God when we know more about our heart. I have a far deeper connection to those parts of scripture where I have emotionally connected to its meaning and application.
I might simply say that the way I feel can often tell me the answers to some of the most significant questions I might have about life. Some might say that we shouldn’t live by our feelings – I would say we MUST live by our feelings. I certainly do not mean we should do what we feel like doing; rather we should know what we are feeling so we can do what is right. If I do not identify my feelings and make appropriate decisions about what to do in light of my feelings, I will walk blindly through this world and potentially making horrible mistakes.
Our feelings are the warning lights on the dashboard of our lives. They keep us from harm; they help us to express passions inside of us. They even bring forth the joy of the Lord! Why would I want to ignore something that God has given me that is so valuable in helping me to live a successful life?
This session and the practical tools incorporated are available by printing the link below. This material takes a very significant message from Paul to the Ephesians and it helps to flush out its depth of meaning. Please read on to find the entirety of this foundation to the Journey of Thomas and see if it may not start a renewal in your life and relationships.
For the entire article and tools – click here PDF
Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Each week I will post a new session so that you, our readers, can experience The Journey of Thomas for yourselves. Please read on;
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- Do you want to have better relationships?
- Do you want to make a deeper impact for the gospel?
- There is real hope. Jesus gave us a way through the fog.
Starting with a life changing session on learning how to be more honest with our feelings, The Journey begins. Our feelings are the sensors for our soul, the heart of our being, the place where God’s Word is to be hidden. Without them we can be blind and unaware of our own lives and the value of others.
The Journey continues with a session on building healthy and safe relationships. Seeing people as God does can bring us to value others more appropriately. When we value others we will hopefully see each person we meet as a divine appointment in our life with Christ. God’s word is full of helpful advice on how to have more healthy relationships. This is imperative if we are going to spread His word to others. We must learn to build healthy connections with the people God has put us on this earth to live with.
Now we will enter in to the nine core values that build a ladder of development which will show us how to relate more effectively with and a godlier outcome of our connections. They are:
It is my hope you will see how it’s possible for us to move from honesty to honor in all of our relationships. It is when we become more honest with ourselves that we will begin the Journey of seeing others as worthy of honor and respect.
There is a process of moving through these sessions that will bring us to see the Fruit of the Spirit flow more freely into and out of our lives. It is also possible to begin to see the application of love in First Corinthians chapter 13 to become a reality!
God calls us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Sometimes this is a daunting task with such diversity in the world around us. However, I believe the more we apply the principles and tools in The Journey of Thomas to our own lives, this will lead us to a more passionate response to the Great Commission!
Let the Journey Begin!
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
How Did The Journey of Thomas Come About?
Todd Posey and I were meeting to reviewing some material I had put together from one of my February meetings in California. That outline was introduced in three basic parts, covering honesty in relationships, choices in building relationships, and the goal of building fruit bearing relationships for the Kingdom of God. Todd was reminded of the familiar passage John 14:6 which says “I am the way, the truth, and the life” and we saw some correlations between my relationship outline and this passage.
We also began to discuss the Grace Rivers’ Core Values and wondered if they might lend themselves to being taught in a particular order. Up to this time, whenever we listed the Core Values, no particular conscious order was given to them. We came to the amazing conclusion that if we reordered the nine Core Values, they had both a linear flow to them and were easily divided into three categories lining up logically with The Truth, The Way, and The Life. Examined this way, they became incredibly clear and even more easily applied in our daily lives.
As we continued further into the parallels, it seemed that all heaven came down and we saw a dramatic revelation of a foundational concept for Grace Rivers. Most intriguing was that as we looked up the passage, we saw that Jesus was answering a question posed to him by Thomas. His question is very similar to what Grace Rivers as a ministry is trying to help people answer.
So, we are very excited to announce “The Journey of Thomas”, which begins with the question “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Or as we paraphrase it, “We don’t know where you are going, and we don’t know how to get there.”
We believe whole heartedly that God has given us a practical solution to that question that will help many hurting people find a way to freedom. The basic mission of Grace Rivers is to provide hope and to do this through practical tools to help men and women build healthy relationships with each other.
Our nine Core Values are just that; foundational principles for us to apply to each and every relationship we have. By putting these to work, they help us to build healthier relationships from the get go and to provide structure and safety in complicated and challenging relationships which leads to healing and restoration. The Core Values represent the unique and foundational teachings that God has been developing in my life for over 20 years leading up to the formation of Grace Rivers.
So we want to invite you to walk alongside us as we enter into the “Journey of Thomas”-an exciting new chapter in the life of Grace Rivers.